Forgiveness in the Bible is a gift from God

Forgiveness in the Bible if a gift from God

It’s so misunderstood, forgiveness. Forgiveness in the Bible is very different then how we see it;. We tend to look at forgiveness in terms of our own values, as if forgiveness is something that must be earned and not given without some kind of compensation. But to assess some kind of price for forgiveness, putting the onus on the other person, is to miss the point entirely.

Jesus shows us how to forgive

When Jesus was dying on the cross, he cried out, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” He was praying for those who had turned on Him. He was asking His father to forgive those who whipped Him and forced Him to carry the cross through the streets of Jerusalem.

Jesus asked for forgiveness for the soldiers who nailed His hands and feet to the cross. Then, He wanted forgiveness for the crowds who shouted “crucify him” during His trial before Pontius Pilate. Jesus asked for His Father’s mercy for the religious elite, who refused to accept God’s gift of eternal life through His son.

He saved the thief on the other cross who asked to be remembered when Jesus entered into His kingdom.

For the entire world, it was forgiveness for the unforgivable.

So difficult to forgive after trauma

People who have been on the receiving end of brutal behavior, who have been physically and emotionally traumatized, are so often haunted by the events of their life, held captive by the person who brought on the damage. Because of what they have experienced, they suffer through the pain and torment over and over again in a never-ending cycle of misery.

They are robbed of even the smallest measure of comfort and human dignity. Their feet are stuck in knee-deep mud and they can’t move forward. To forgive the person who did this is inconceivable.

Why forgive them for doing this when they don’t care about the pain they have inflicted? Just thinking about it brings up terrible memories and the anger wells up inside. But what if forgiveness for those who have harmed you is more about bringing peace to your soul.

Forgiveness in the Bible

According to Psychology Today, “Forgiveness is the release of resentment or anger. Forgiveness doesn’t mean reconciliation. One doesn’t have to return to the same relationship or accept the same harmful behaviors from an offender.

Forgiveness is vitally important for the mental health of those who have been victimized. It propels people forward rather than keeping them emotionally engaged in an injustice or trauma.

If we can forgive it has been shown to elevate mood, enhance optimism, and guard against anger, stress, anxiety and depression.”

Forgiveness is easier said then done

Forgiving is easier said than done however. But you ask, “Why don’t you just forgive them?” They reply, “Because I can’t.” Or they may say, “I don’t know how.”

But forgiving isn’t about letting the other person off the hook. When we sin against God, or against each other, there are consequences to our actions. God is, after all, paying attention and knows what is happening in His presence.

Not knowing how to forgive is just a part of human nature. We have our own sense of right and wrong, and our own sense of justice, but that doesn’t necessarily line up with God’s view of any given situation.

Don’t believe other person DESERVES to be forgiven

Sometimes we just don’t forgive because we believe the other person or persons don’t “deserve” to be forgiven. They have done nothing to EARN forgiveness.

When people are released from prison, it because they have “paid their debt to society.” However, they still aren’t forgiven and all too often getting out of jail is worse than being in jail because there’s that criminal record, which is never expunged, regardless of the efforts one might take to repay his/her debts. They come out owing lawyer fees, court costs and reparations. They did the time, but they aren’t forgiven.

God tells us that He will not remember our sins against us. Total forgiveness is foreign to the human mind. Because we can never pay the sin debt, because we cannot earn God’s forgiveness, and because we do not deserve His forgiveness, we are left completely powerless to change the circumstances, defenseless against any charge of sin, and helpless to effect any solution.

By own own doing, it is a bottomless pit that we fall into. God’s grace put’s a safety net into the bottomless pit and those who accept His offer of eternal life through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, are not only forgiven, but washed clean. When God views His children, He sees the righteousness of His own Son.

Don’t see it the way God does

Still forgiveness is difficult because we can’t see it God’s way. We want to pay own own way. Even if we can forgive others, we often cannot forgive ourselves for the mistakes, the sinful actions and the bad decisions.

But God does forgive those who need forgiveness. He wants to forgive, and so, despite our own roadblocks, He freely gives that which we cannot fully comprehend. In spite of ourselves, we are forgiven. Therefore, to not forgive ourselves is to tell God that His forgiveness has no bearing. That is illogical.

If forgiveness brings relief and freedom, the promise of renewal and hope, then to turn it down is extremely short-sighted. Forgiveness in the Bible is a gift that each of us should accept.

Jesus went to the cross to pay the sin debt in full. Because of that, God put all of the blame on His own Son, allowing us to go free, with one, small caveat. All God requires of us is to accept His gift… His son.

We are free to reject it, and so, any separation from God that is the consequence of that action is entirely our own doing.

In short, forgiveness in the Bible, i. e. the forgiveness of God is powerful beyond our comprehension in its complete and eternal transformation of the human soul.

Self-control in the Bible

self control

Self-control, generally speaking, is the ability to regulate emotions in a difficult situation. Psychologists would say it’s the ability to manage impulses. There are web sites devoted to self-control. They offer tips or strategies on how to develop this skill. Self control in the Bible is a gift from God for believers.

An old man was talking to his young friend, trying to share some of life’s challenges. He told him events in his life and selected a few of them to pass on. Then he was hoping the young one will heed the warning and avoid the calamity that surely will follow.

He talked of those events, including the details of his thoughts and emotions. At one point he paused and said, “You know, I’ve always been my worst enemy because I just couldn’t control myself.” That statement is usually followed by, “If I only knew then what I know now.”

The Bible references self-control as something which the Holy Spirit helps us with:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23

We are not wired for self-control

Humans are not necessarily wired for self-control, so how would self-control be considered a fruit of the Spirit? That’s simple. Also, self control in the Bible show us that because we are not able to fully control ourselves, we are in need of help—God help, not self-help.

In the first chapter of his second letter, Peter explained the power of self-control that God, through His Holy Spirit, shares with us in saying:

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; to self-control, perseverance; to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. If you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Self-control in the Bible is part of God’s divine nature

Peter talked of participating in the divine nature. We receive this opportunity. The divine nature is shared. It does not belong to us. The Messiah Jesus came to earth as a man and gave up His divine power. His works were based on the power of the Holy Spirit, not His own power.

Also, Peter was a first-hand observer and understood this power source that is available to all believers through the Holy Spirit. Also, Peter himself experienced Holy Spirit power in his own ministry. He was the one disciple who was always ready for a fight and displayed intemperate behavior at times. Then, over time, he learned self-control by the gentle guidance of Christ. We are no different.

Self control in the Bible shows us how to gain control

Paul writes in Titus 2:2:

It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,”

Everyone values self-control

Secular writings teach us the value of self-control. In the famous poem “If” Rudyard Kipling wrote:

“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you….and if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too;

“Also, If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, or being lied about, don’t deal in lies, or being hated, don’t give way to hating,…

“Finally, if you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,..Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!”

Kipling’s description of earthy wisdom pales in comparison to the self-control and wisdom that God offers, but his famous poem helps us understand. So much more self-control in the Bible through the workings of the Holy Spirit, to help us become more like Christ.

Gentleness in the Bible

Gentleness in the Bible

There is not a lot of gentleness in the world today. Gentleness in the Bible is often displayed by God. Call it a zero-sum game, or an “us against them” battle of wills, but there is little room for gentleness anymore. Even when the intentions are good, we can lose our perspective, or the very reason for our action.

Evangelical Christians are encouraged to share their story with friends and acquaintances. They have come to know Jesus as their personal savior and Lord, and part of that means telling others.

Excited and enthusiastic, they tell of their encounter with God, only sometimes the other person fails to understand, or is not interested in hearing, or completely disagrees. The frustration mounts. They wonder how their friend can’t see what they see and isn’t excited about the message. They may even get angry.

The Apostle Peter warns of this when he writes in 1 Peter 3:15:

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…”

Being gentle is not being weak

Gentleness does not mean weakness. But, gentleness is related to kindness, another fruit of the Spirit, as it is based on strength given by the Holy Spirit and the love of God. Gentleness is related to patience, because we are encouraged to put others first. Gentleness requires strength. Jesus was gentle with most people.

Of course there are events in the Bible when Jesus was not at all gentle and even displayed righteous anger. When he saw the money changers at the Temple, he overturned the tables in rebuke of their turning God’s house into a business enterprise:

Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a den of robbers.’” (Matthew 21:12-13)

Jesus often gentle

When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well and told her about her life, he approached her with gentleness and love. He did not criticize her, accuse her, or chastise her in any way. It was a tender moment of complete forgiveness, understanding and compassion. She was so moved that she ran back to the village to tell the others.

Paul encourages people to:

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. (Philippians 4:5).”

He also writes in Collisions 3:12, “ Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

The Bible has many examples of gentleness

The Old Testament has many examples of gentleness, no one more poignant than Isaiah 53:7:

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.”

The imagery of the “Lamb of God,” used throughout the bible, is very much in keeping with gentleness. With great love and compassion, Jesus offered himself to pay for the sins of many.

Jesus was completely confident of the outcome, the need for His sacrifice, and so with gentleness, he carried the cross. The gentleness of Jesus was in a very real way, the ultimate example of strength and power.

Through that gentleness, Jesus accomplished what was completely impossible for anyone else.

Patience in the Bible

Patience in the Bible

There is common saying “patience is a virtue” and indeed it is. We see being patient as being tolerant of each other, or not getting angry when someone says something we don’t like. But the Bible has a lot to say about the patience of God, who loves us in spite of ourselves.

Helping us to understand patience in the Bible, the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 9:22:

What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction?”

God shows His divine patience

Man sinned against God, a deliberate act of pride and disobedience, an affront to God’s Holiness and perfect love, yet God did not strike Adam and Eve down for such an egregious offense.

Throughout all of human history, God has given us the freedom to exercise the free-will that He gave us. We think of free will as our own decision to do as we like, but free will was God’s by design to allow us to think, reason and come to Him.

A man once told me about his pets. He said the dog comes when he calls him because he is trained to do so and is obedient. Then he calls his cat and the cat ignores him. Finally, he told me that when the cat comes to him he takes particular pleasure in the action, because he knows it was entirely the cat’s idea.

God is patient with us, because He desires a relationship with us when we choose to turn toward Him .

We are always testing God’s patience

We test God’s patience, and we test each other. It’s nothing new. The prophet Isaiah said:

Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? (Isaiah 7:13)”

It’s interesting that he talks about the house of David, because out of David’s line comes the Messiah Jesus.

Man’s sin over the centuries challenged the patience of God, yet in His love for us, He held back His wrath, electing instead to allow His own Son to take our place. God’s grace is enhanced by His patience.

Be patient with yourself

Patience also means giving yourself a break. We have all been patient with another person at one time or an other, but are we patient with ourselves? In Christ we are a new creation, a work in progress. But we live in an age when people want what they want and they want it… right now! No delayed gratification, immediate results.

Patience is learning how to wait on God. Children learn the skill of waiting for gratification, the wisdom to know that if you wait, better things might happen.

Forbearance is also a gift from the Holy Spirit

Patience and forbearance are very similar. Patience may be more like putting up with something, while forbearance is delaying or refraining from enforcing the law, collecting a debt or seeing that an obligation is met.

They are not entirely interchangeable, but they work nicely together. Patience is easier to understand because it is more commonly used.

Ecclesiastes 7:8 states:

The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.”

Our pride and arrogance cause us to lose sight of God’s plan for our lives, the most essential part of that being His desire to bring us to Him, but on His terms, not ours.

The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 2:4:

Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”

We tend to reject the very thing that will give us eternal happiness and security, instead of being patient and allowing God to follow His divine plan for us with His timing.

Goodness in the Bible

Goodness in the Bible

Goodness is almost a throw-away word in the modern vernacular, but goodness in the Bible is not. Also, the dictionary definition reads, “the nutritious, flavorful, or beneficial part of something.”

In addition, for people, goodness is not a natural part of our character. We are, by nature, sinners, wired to turn away from God and disobey him. A standard argument for many is that man is “basically good.” The Bible disagrees.

The Apostle Paul wrote:

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Goodness comes from God

Goodness is not man-made, it is God-made. Also, goodness is something that God puts into us, and that means goodness is only given to those who have put their trust and faith in His provision, His Son.

Being good does not necessarily mean that people who do good have goodness. Even those who do not believe in God, or who hate God, can be good to other people.

When we come to Biblical faith in God, we step into God’s amazing plan to transform our lives and make us a new creation. But, we are inclined to sin and resist His will, but God’s will is for us to develop goodness.

Believers do good as an act of love and appreciation

Believers are called to live a life of righteousness, to put aside the old ways and go on a new journey. Additionally, God’s Holy Spirit directs believers to do good, not as an obligation, but as an act of love and appreciation. In 1 John 4:13, the Apostle John writes:

By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us use of His Holy Spirit.”

Goodness, therefore, is of God.

Through the Holy Spirit, we share in the nature and character of God, his Holiness. God’s goodness can not be paralleled or duplicated, only imitated. As sinners we cannot become “good” on our own power, but we can become more God-like in our behavior.

God credited Abraham with righteousness for his faith. Jesus demonstrated God’s goodness by serving people, doing good works. James says believers should be “doers of the word.”

This means to live out one’s faith. The Apostle Paul wrote:

through love serve one another”

Believers become transformed into the likeness of Christ

People are called to obey God’s law, but a key component of that calling is the work of the Holy Spirit, transforming us into the likeness of Christ. That transformation is our being “created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Ephesians 2:10).

The goodness is not for our glory, but for the glory of God. In addition, keeping the law is not a prerequisite for being acceptable to God, because no one keeps the law. Rather, the love of the law, the willingness to be transformed, the desire to please God is the key to understanding the true meaning of goodness.

Actions show sign of inner transformation

Our actions are an outward sign of an inner transformation. But even when people honestly try to follow God in this way, there are invariably moments of failure, followed by those who would take advantage of this opportunity to call them hypocrites. Also, the desire for goodness will lead to criticism, or as the old saying goes: “no good dead goes unpunished.”

Since the time of Christ, people can also be deceived by false teachings, or fall away out of self-interest. Even 700 years before Christ, the prophet Isaiah wrote:

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

Dwelling in goodness and love

One of the most recognizable references to goodness is in Psalm 23:6:

“Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

That promise is the ultimate example of the goodness of God. Also, even when we turn away, when we disobey Him, when we intentionally sin against Him, He loves us.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).

Kindness in the Bible

Kindness in the Bible

It’s easy to be kind to somebody you like, or somebody whom you feel is really deserving of it. It is not, however, easy to show kindness to somebody who rejects the offer. Or also has no respect for the person behind the action and who will in no way reciprocate. Someone who won’t even to say “thank you.” Kindness in the Bible, calls on us to do just that.

Still, God extends His kindness to us. Kindness is very much of God, a part of his nature and character, an attribute that clearly separates Him from humans.

Kindness is one of the fruits of the spirit, a gift from God through the Holy Spirit to those who believe. Even so, it isn’t always found in human behavior.

God offers kindness even when we turn our back on Him

People each have their own definition of kindness, also meanings of words overlap, so kindness gets mixed in with gentleness, goodness and mercy. But in terms of kindness in the Bible, kindness is displayed throughout by examples of God’s grace.

Man turned on God, but still God, in his kindness, as in Romans 2:4, which reads:

Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”

God has a plan for everything, so kindness is not just a random act, but a purposeful action for a specific purpose.

Man’s salvation hinges on the kindness of God

Of course, God’s kindness is sometimes foreign to us. The idea to “love your enemy” goes against our sense of justice and retribution.

But man’s salvation hinges on the kindness of God. Ephesians 2:7-8 states:

in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

His kindness towards us has paved the way to salvation

We all NEED God’s kindness to us.The Apostle Paul charged that the “wages of sin is death,” and that “all have sinned.” Therefore we are guilty as charged.

God, being a holy and perfect God, cannot turn his back on sin and thus go back on His word. But His kindness towards us has paved the way to salvation, as we are offered a gift, a free invitation.

Through belief in Christ, a simple act of faith, we are spared the wrath of God. This one act of kindness washes us clean of sin. Jesus does so fully and completely, and when God looks at us, He sees the righteousness of His own Son. Also, He does not fail to see what is going on. Finally, there are consequences, but the price of our salvation has been paid in full. We are set free.

Kindness in the Bible: We all should be striving to be kind to one another

The Apostle Paul said we should be “imitators” of God. Human kindness is a reflection of God’s kindness. Kindness is something we strive for. We are works in progress. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, we reflect the kindness of God.

Joy in the Bible

Joy in the Bible

People often mistake joy for happiness. While happiness depends of happenings, joy is independent of exterior forces and only comes from within. Joy in the Bible is a gift from God. He grants to His followers, which gives them freedom, in any situation, at any time. Then they can experience the love and grace of God, regardless of anything going on in the moment.

It may be hard to imagine, but even in misery, one can experience joy.

Joy in the Bible not attached to human event or circumstance

Because joy is not attached to any human event or circumstance, it cannot be removed unless the individual chooses not to embrace it. When a person has joy in their heart, the joy of the Lord, no one can take that away.

The Apostle Paul experienced joy in prison

Even while imprisoned, in chains, the Apostle Paul still found joy. He wrote some of his most significant and powerful letters to fellow believers.

While in prison, Peter and John sang songs of joy to the Lord. James writes of having joy even in dire circumstances, to consider them as “joy.” At Christmas we sing “Joy to the world, the Lord has come.” Also, the familiar saying that someone has a “song in their heart” is talking about joy.

Joy in the Bible: Loving God yields joy

We are encouraged and instructed to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.” That is a call to be constantly in prayer, or in a prayerful state. Nothing else matters, but your relationship with God. It is a point of focus. Everything else is blocked out.

Being caught up in a terrible situation is not happy, but holding close to the fact that God dearly loves us and cares for us, and promises us life eternal through His own Son, who was sacrificed for our sins, can turn distress into joy.

It’s that knowing deep in one’s heart that God will provide and does not hold back anything for our benefit that makes the difference.

Joy in the Bible is about trusting God in all circumstances

Joy in the Bible is a matter of perspective. People like to prepare for all possibilities, to ensure that there is a good plan in place, an alternative plan if the first one does not work, and trust that everything is going to work out.

However, as the old joke says, when you are up to your waist in alligators, it’s difficult to remember that your original objective was to drain the swamp. This is a whimsical example, but it illustrates a point. In and of ourselves, under our own strength, we are not in control. God is in control.

Trust in God allows us to experience His joy for us

The good news is that if we put our trust and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, He will be with us through all of the trials of life. When we know that God has a purpose for our lives, we can go through trials with joy. We may not understand God’s purpose, but we can understand His steadfast love for us.

James teaches us that when God tests our faith, He is helping us develop patience. The Apostle Paul writes:

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope (Romans 15:13).”

Peace in the Bible

Peace in the Bible

What is peace in the Bible? Is it the lack of war? Is it a state of mind? The Bible is all about the unfolding relationship between man and God.

Peace in the Bible, is all about that relationship—being at peace with God, or right standing with God. The Hebrew word is SALOM (shalom), often used as a common greeting or blessing. In Greek, the word is EIRENE, which can mean harmony or fulfillment, among several other meanings.

Often we think of peace in terms of not being at war. We desire peace with all nations. But if we do not have peace with God, if we are not in right standing with Him, how can we have peace with each other?

Peace in the Bible is not just lack of war

There have always been wars. Throughout history war has been a constant. The Old Testament, which is just a small slice of history, there are countless wars and skirmishes, all caused by a lack of peace with God.

Obedience to God, following the Ten Commandments, ensures harmony among people and nations. Because, above all things, we are commanded to love God above all else, that will give us the ultimate peace.

The agape love that God has for mankind is seldom completely understood, as self interest overtakes shalom when we turn away and make our own decisions. Time and again, in the Bible, the people of Israel turned away, felt the consequences, then turned back to rekindle the relationship.

They had periods of prosperity, followed by captivity and suffering. When they were in right standing with God, life was good. Crops were plentiful, enemies stayed away. Of course, those periods of peace never lasted long and the kingdom eventually split into two parts, as the original tribes of Israel were estranged.

God calls us to share our peace with others

We hear in church, “peace be with you.” God grants us peace and we are to share that with one another. Often we think of “peace and calm,” a state of well-being rather than a state of relationship with God. God made a covenant with man, who in turn would make sacrifices to display obedience and appreciation.

The ultimate peace through Jesus

God gave us the ultimate sacrifice, the fulfillment of the law and the prophets, through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. That peace through Christ, however, can be blocked based on our choices and disobedience.

Throughout the Old Testament, there are many events where the people of Israel turned away from God. As a result, His “shalom”/peace was not taken away as much as it was put on hold. His peace “like a river” stops flowing. God’s shalom is a product of, or in a sense a reward for righteousness.

As men and women turn to God and are obedient to His voice, their relationship is “at peace.” The Apostle Paul talked about the consequences of sin, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 3:23). Death is the ultimate absence of shalom.

Yeshua/Jesus said He “did not come to bring peace to the earth, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34). He was ushering in the Kingdom of God, calling people to turn back to God, repent and embrace righteousness. God promises an eternity of peace, but first sin must be crushed for good, as Paul writes:

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” (Romans 6:20)

Peace in the Bible is often associated with Jesus

The Lord Jesus Christ is described in the Bible as “the prince of peace.” His coming was heralded by the angels to shouted “peace on earth, good will to men.”

Once again, after centuries of off and on again “shalom,” God reached out and gave man his most precious gift, His son. If man’s heart was warring against God, the Messiah was the ultimate “peace” offering.

God, in that one significant moment, demonstrated that He would give everything to have peace with mankind.

Man draws toward God then pulls away and suffers the consequences

The same relationship with God has continued since the 2000 years since the earthly life of Christ, as man draws to God, pulls away and then suffers the consequences. The major difference, of course, since the arrival of Messiah, Yeshua, Jesus is that God has extended His grace to all.

Christ met all of the requirements of the law. Therefore, there is the promise of eternal life through Christ, an eternal guarantee of shalom/peace. The Apostle Paul would write:

Grace and peace to you through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Shalom.

Love in the Bible

God is love

God is love. So often quoted, said with casual certainty, this three-word statement is so much more. Biblical love, God’s love, goes beyond human understanding of the word.

Men and women use the word interchangeably to mean “like,” or “desire.” One might say “I love music,” treating music as an object of affection. Or they say “I love food,” when talking about a delicious meal.

But the word “love” most always is devalued when people use it to describe attraction, or preference. The word “love” becomes a figure of speech, a hollow, meaningless term of endearment.

What does Love in the Bible mean?

Biblical “love” is entirely different, because in order to understand love in the Bible, one must see the world the way God sees the world. Because we are human, that’s very difficult, if not impossible, but we are able to grasp a portion of its full meaning.

Imagine love as a deep, unshakable, never-ending, absolute and consuming desire for something. God desires our love and companionship. Then imagine that He will spare nothing to achieve a perfect relationship, even when we turn away and mock Him.

In John 3:16, Jesus tells Rabbi Nicodemus:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.

Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

Greek words for LOVE

The New Testament highlights three of the Greek words for love, Eros, Philos and Agape. Eros, from which we get the word erotic, is a physical or emotional attraction. Therefore, it is the kind of love a man and woman have in marriage.

Philos is “brotherly” love. We regard Philadelphia as the city of brotherly love. It suggests comradeship, friendship, loyalty.

Agape is an absolute and unquestioning love, the kind of love that God has for people. The late psychotherapist Carl Rogers termed it “unconditional positive regard” in his writings.

Love in the Bible: Jesus questions Peter about LOVE

In the Gospel of John, Jesus has three questions for Peter after dinner. Peter was the disciple who had rejected Jesus three times during the trial after Jesus was arrested. But it was Peter who Jesus selected to lead the new church. The conversation begins in John 21:15:

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love (eros) me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love (philos) me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

The third time he said to him:

Simon son of John, do you love (agape) me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.””

Three meanings for LOVE are clarified

You can see that there are three different meanings to His questions. First He asks, are you attracted to me and my message? Then He follows with are we friends/brothers? Finally He finishes with do you love me above all things, all others?

We are commanded to love God in Deuteronomy 6:5:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

LOVE God with ALL of your heart

Jesus would offer an updated version in Matthew 22:37-40, “Jesus replied:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

For more on God is LOVE, below is an excellent sermon: Understanding God’s Love by Tony Evans.

The Prophet Isaiah Issues an Explanation and a Promise

Isaiah 58

The Bible is a continuous story on the relationship between man and God. When man pulls away and makes his own decisions, the relationship is broken. When the relationship is broken man no longer benefits from all of the blessings, protections and gifts of God. In Chapter 58 of his Book, Isaiah brings this into focus.

The United States, like so many nations, has enjoyed the benefits from this relationship, yet even with a free and open society, freedom to worship, freedom to express opinions, the USA is hardly a Christian nation, a Jewish nation, or a nation that worships God in any significant fashion.

There are churches in every community, yet only a small percentage of people are Biblical believers. Even those who claim Biblical beliefs will argue against the statements of the Biblical writers. Christian people will deny the Biblical account of creation. I have known so many people who go to church or synagogue and don’t believe in God at all.

So much of the world now is secular and sadly, man is worshiping man, forsaking the Word of God in favor of believing any alternative narrative that comes along.

Isaiah is talking about the breakdown of trust and faith. Of course, when something bad happens, like the attack of the World Trade Center, or when the Pentagon had the downing of a passenger flight headed for the U.S. Capitol on September 11, 2001, people pull together. They ask God to help. For a brief moment there is a turning back to God, perhaps even repentance for bad behavior, but it is only temporary.

People get comfortable again and immediately go back to their own way. The Bible is the story of that constant back and forth. People turn to God, turn away, turn back to God, etc.

As much as God is a loving and gracious God, there are consequences to this constant double mindedness. God loves unconditionally, but he also will punish sin. He is a Holy and righteous God, whose Word is absolute. If God were to allow sin to flourish without consequence, he would go against His own nature and character. That will not happen.

Through Isaiah, God gives an admonishment, but at the same time, a promise of love and fulfillment. God desires the relationship, He seeks out man, He makes the first move. Then He patiently waits for man to respond.

Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the descendants of Jacob their sins. For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them. ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’

Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Isaiah 58 Featured

In his homily at the presidential inauguration prayer service, the Rev. William Barber II, co-chair of the Poor Peoples Campaign, cited Isaiah 58, where the prophet calls on his people to:

“loose the bands of wickedness, … let the oppressed go free,” and become “the repairer of the breach.”

“The breach is when we say, ‘One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,’ with our lips, while we see the rich and the poor living in two different Americas,” Barber said, hoping that we as a nation face difficult issues and don’t again turn our backs on these problems.